Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Helping Your Children With Homework

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Phil,

My son is learning fractions. I cannot help him. He says he is not good at fractions. But he does not try. He is smart but very stubborn. He is not doing his homework because he is saying he doesn't understand it.

Nina in Fresno CA

Hi Nina,

Thanks for this great question. Let's take your son at his word and help him to understand fractions. First I want you to talk to his teacher. Maybe there is a tutoring program at his school. Maybe there is some problem at school you don't know about. It's a good idea to have regular contact with the teacher.

But, what if the school is not enough?

How do you help your children with their homework if you do not understand their homework yourself? First, be honest with yourself. I know it is painful, but you cannot answer every question your child can come up with. It is OK to not know everything. Honestly tell your child, "I don't get that math... Let's find someone who can help us."

There is help... Great help and it is free!

There is a free and amazing website every parent should know about: www.khanacademy.org. It is a non-profit organization set up to teach the world... for free.

I went to the website and in their search box I typed FRACTIONS. It brought me to a window with lots of lessons on fractions. The first was the most basic lesson on the subject: fractions... what are the parts of a fraction called?

The student is offered a video lesson. It is calm and short. Then the student is asked if he would like to do some practice questions. No presure, it is all at his pace.

Let's go to school

Let's look at the 2 1/2 minute video about the parts of fractions:

A student can view the video as many times as they wish. He can back it up and rehear and see any part he wishes.

Then he can work some practice questions by clicking the green PRACTICE THIS CONCEPT BUTTON.

The Khan Academy website is even set up to track your son's progress as he learns, if the two of you want to.

This site is open to everyone. If you want to learn something from days gone by... Khan Academy will be happy to teach you. Adults are welcome. And it is free!

Parents should start here

The Khan Academy site is massive and growing daily. I advise you to grab a cup of tea and sit down for an informative adventure. Start at: Khan Academy | Where do I begin? How should I get started

In my humble opinion, Salman Khan, the mastermind behind Khan Academy, is Nobel Prize material.


Dr. Phil

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